Another exciting RECon has come and gone. We hope that you made meaningful connections, fostered relationships and facilitated deals.
Each year after the conference, I reflect on the underlying themes that were repeated throughout the sessions I attended and echoed in the conversations I had with industry colleagues. This year has been no different, but I am surprised by what themes seemed to emerge.
Two themes in particular stood out above the rest: the importance of building relationships and creating community. Keynote speaker Julie Rice highlighted not only how important community is to WeWork, where she is a partner, but also how it plays a significant role at SoulCycle, the revolutionary fitness company she co-founded. For example, WeWork is currently reimagining how its spaces can be used to facilitate connections between remote workers and entrepreneurs and is also hosting events in the evening to help foster community. At SoulCycle, not only does their app support community, but associates are trained to connect members with similarities, thus building individual and group relationships.
Serial entrepreneur and CEO Marcus Lemonis also offered inspiring insights about the significance of community and charged the real estate industry to put people first. He spoke about the businesses with which he partners and how local business fosters a sense of community in a specific locale.
There was much discussion, too, about food halls, which are becoming the nation’s new community center, a place where people are meeting their neighbors. When done correctly and with the right retail mix, these food halls can thrive and be the connection hubs that society craves. Over 400 food halls are being built across the country in the next year, and it appears these popular destinations, which boost community, are here to stay.
The idea of building relationships and communities is much bigger than the retail real estate industry, as it transcends the needs and wants of society as a whole. The retail industry is in a unique position to impact both relationships and communities as it designs and builds spaces and places for people to shop and socialize.
What themes from this year’s conference resonated with you? Do you have ideas as to how today’s real estate leaders can best foster relationships and develop a sense of community? We encourage you to share your thoughts.